Family hiking day trips from Zurich without a car

Since many families in Switzerland don’t have a car, how easy it is to get to a hike can be as important as how easy the hike is. So I’ve put together a list of hikes that are easy to reach by public transportation from the Zurich HB.

**All fares quoted below are samples based on 2017 prices, for one adult round trip from Zurich HB with the SBB Half-fare discount. It does not include local Zurich city travel. Fares may change.

Note: Since this post includes info tables, it looks best on a larger screen, not so great on phones.

First, what does “easy by train” mean?

No one likes running to catch a connecting train, especially with kids, or loading and unloading a stroller multiple times in one trip. So I’ve picked locations with:

  • minimal connections, ideally no more than one
  • easy connections, i.e. transfer on same track or bus just outside train station
  • minimal walking distance from the public transportation to the mountain transport or trail head.
  • less than 2 hours travel time to mountain transport

Make sure to double check the bus schedules, since many local buses run very infrequently, like once an hour or only a couple times a day.

Hikes easy by train, no extra costs

Hikes in this list are easy to reach, with only one connection, usually from a train to a local bus. These hikes do not require mountain transport, so no extra costs. The list is sorted by travel time. The connections are based on the simplest route, though other routes may exist.

Destination   Connections  Time* Price* Hike Info
Kusnacht Ravine 1 train 20mins 8.80 7 km one way
Sihlwald 1 train 20mins 8.80 2 km loop theme trail
Horgen Ravine 1 train, 1 bus 20mins 8.40 2.8 km one way
Devil’s Gorge 1 train, 1 bus 1hr5 34.40 4.2 km one way
Zugerberg 1 train, 1 bus 45mins 17.40 2.8 km loop theme trail
Caumasee 1 train, 1 bus 2hr 55.20 10 min to lake or
7 km round trip to gorge

Hikes easy to reach + mountain transport

These hikes all require mountain transport to reach the trails (except Walensee, which requires a ferry). So the quoted travel time and costs only get you to the valley station and do not include the cable car or funicular at your destination.

Destination   Connections  Time* Price* Hike Info
Mount Rigi 1 train 40mins 21.80 viewpoint + 9 km panorama trail
Walensee 1 train, 1 bus 1hr 27.80 4 km round trip
Flumserberg 1 train 1hr 32.60 3.2 km theme trail
Sattel Hochstuckli 1 train 1hr10 27.00 bouncy castles and hikes
Stoos 1 train, 1 bus 1hr15 29.20 2 km panorama trail
Braunwald 1 train 1hr30 27.80 3.5 to 7.6 km theme trail
Pilatus 1 train, 1 bus 1hr30  38.40 Panorama walk at top
Pizol Heidi 1 train, 1 bus 1hr50 37.60 4.1 km loop theme trail
Toggenburg 1 train, 1 bus 1hr50 50.20 6 km theme trail

Farther away & slightly more effort

Hikes in this list take more effort to reach, most with 2 connections and longer travel times.

Destination   Connections &  Travel Time Price* Hike Info
Hoch Ybrig 2 trains, 1 bus 1hr30 29.20 Panorama trail
Elm 2 trains, 1 bus 1hr50 27.80 2.6 km theme trail
Engelberg 2 trains, 1 bus 2hr 38.00 Globi trail + barefoot path
Trübsee lake walk
Ebenalp 2 trains 2hr05 40.00 15 min to viewpoint or
7.5 km hike to lake and down
Niederhorn 1 train, 1 bus 2hr00 70.00 7.2 km panorama ridge hike
Bannalp 2 trains, 1 bus 2hr05 35.60 2.5 km dwarf theme trail
Oeschinensee 2 trains 2hr20 75.00 4 km round trip to lake
Lenzerheide 1 train, 1 bus 2hr25 52.40 4 km Foxolino trail
Hasliberg 2 trains, 1 bus 2hr30 47.20 4 km dwarf theme trail

Famous Destinations

This list show the famous destinations and regions that you will want to visit and what sort of travel time and connections you will face. I’ve quoted the times to a central point in each region. You’ll have more travel time to reach your final destination. Good luck!

Note: For some of these, it is most affordable to get a GA Day Pass (aka Tageskarte) which is CHF 75 for travel all over Switzerland if you have a half-fare card. You can buy these in advance at a discount from your Gemeinde.

Destination   Connections Travel Time
Zermatt Area 2 trains 3hr15 to Zermatt
Valais Region 1 train 2hr20 to Brig
Jungfrau Region 3 trains 2hr30 to Lauterbrunnen
Ticino 1-2 train 2hr20 to Locarno or Lugano
Engadin 2 trains 3hr20 to St. Moritz
Western Switzerland 1-2 trains 1hr30 to Fribourg/Neuchâtel
2hr50 to Geneva

Know of any other hikes that are easy to reach by public transportation? Leave a comment and help us out.

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